As a photographer, I frequently get asked questions like, “What is the best time of day to schedule the photo session to catch the best light?”  And of course, there’s a variety of other variables that play into picking the ideal time, such as your location preferences and working around kids schedules.  For today’s post though, we’ll focus on how to get the best light to make you look your best!

Natural light photographs are my absolute favorite! When it comes to the ideal lighting, you can not beat the beautiful natural glow that comes from the sun when it’s at just the right angle or the warmth and depth it brings to your location that just can’t be duplicated in a studio setting.


What You Need to Know

To figure out the angle of light, you need to know three times of day (1) Sunrise, (2) Sunset, and (3) Mid-day. The position of the sun at those times of the day is very predictable and when you know what times those fall at, then you can accurately predict the kind of light you want for your photo session.

Typically, if you can, you want to shy away from 2 hours before and 2 hours after mid-day. This is when the angle of the sun is harshest. Sometimes this can’t be avoided so if the location you choose has some shady locations, you can possibly get away with shooting around mid-day. Normally, however, what you end up with is harsh light, and harsh shadows. Like this:

An example of an outdoor photo taken in harsh sunlight casting dark shadows.


My Recommendations

Personally, my favorite time of day to shoot is in the morning – about an hour or two after sunrise, especially during those months when North Carolina is blazing hot by the afternoon. The sun you experience during those times is bright, but not usually too bight, and if you are early enough creates some fantastic what I like to call yummy, light!

A dad tickles a baby during an outdoor morning photo session at Lake Benson Park in Wake County. A mom poses in historic downtown Apex during a LuLaRoe fashion photography session.

If you really love sunset glow or what photographers refer to as the “golden hour”, then you want to aim for an hour to an hour and a half before sunset/dusk. You have to be careful of your location here, and make sure you are in an open area away from the tree line or you will miss the warm glow cast by the setting sun!

A family of three poses in a field at sunset for their family photos in McGees Crossroads.

A man kisses his fiance in downtown Fayetteville during a sunsest glow photo session. A high school senior wearing a purple blouse leans against a wall at White Deer Park.

Let Me Help You

There are reasons to go with any and all of these lighting ideas! You want to work around not only the best light, but also what works best for your family too.

What to see how I can help you figure out what the best time would be for your family photos? Send me a message and we can chat, or if you’re ready to book a session we’ll cover it all in your virtual consultation!


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Ready to see yourself in our images? View our packages and checkout online. Easy. Done.


Ready to see yourself in our images? View our packages and checkout online. Easy. Done.

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